…And why a rose gold Lange 1 currently tops my most wanted list
Like any red-blooded watch lover, I have an ever-growing list of pieces that I would love to add to my collection. There are those that are “affordable” (in the luxury watch world sense) and more or less readily available that I think would be great additions to fill out my growing collection. The new 36mm blue dial AP Royal Oak, a classic Speedy and a 36mm IWC Mark XVIII (slate dial) all fall into that category for me.
And then there are those that become objects of intense
desire lust that I file under “grail status” either because of their rarity or being at a price point that requires some careful and disciplined saving over a period of years to acquire. Here, we’re talking a Patek 5170G, Rolex 6263 Daytona non-Paul Newman black dial or the absolutely stunning rose gold A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1.
If you’re not terribly familiar with A. Lange & Söhne, it’s because they don’t advertise like the “big boys”, they only produce around 5,500 pieces a year, nor are they a Swiss manufacturer. So unless you’ve begun your descent into the horological rabbit hole – no turning back, by the way – chances are it’s a name you’ve not heard. If that’s the case, consider this your introduction.
What makes the Lange 1 so unique? The dial, for starters.
In many respects, the Lange 1 represents for me, the heart and soul of what A. Lange & Söhne is all about – exquisite craftsmanship and stunning, if not disruptive, design.
One look at the Lange 1’s dial and you can see what I mean by disruptive. This is not your typical dial. The hour and minute indices, instead of taking up the entire watch face, occupy a large display on the left-hand side of the dial with Roman numeral hour markers at three, six, nine and 12.
Between four and five o’clock, you have a small seconds register, which impinges on the hour and minutes register ever so slightly. Directly above that is the power reserve indicator, which, of course, is an extremely helpful tool when you are dealing with a manually wound movement. (N.B. Fully wound, the Lange 1 will run for 72 hours.)
Finally, above the power reserve indicator and to the right of the hour and minutes display, you have a Lange signature – the Lange large date display. What makes it unique, despite the obvious? Unlike many date windows, this one is not set via the crown. Instead, it is controlled by a pusher at 10 o’clock on the side of the case. The joy of this feature is hard to put into words. Never has it been easier or, I might add, more fun to advance the date on a watch.
Now, if someone were to describe the dial of the Lange 1 to you without the aid of a photograph, you might think to yourself, “Wow, that sounds like a weird, jumbled mess.” But somehow, in practice, that asymmetry makes for something incredibly harmonious, ridiculously impressive and stunningly unique.
The asymmetry makes for something incredibly harmonious, ridiculously impressive and stunningly unique.
Let’s talk briefly about case size, which at 38.5mm, is also somewhat atypical. As someone who would take a 36mm case any day of the week and finds 40mm to be about my personal upper range, a 38.5mm case is perfect.
You know how electronics companies are also updating their devices and software and with each update you think, “It’s so great, why didn’t they do that in the first place?” That’s kind of how I feel about a 38.5mm case. There are lots of 36mm and 40mm cases, but you don’t see many in this size. Another one of the Lange 1’s unique charms.
A couple millimeters difference might seem like splitting hairs, but I assure you that it makes a big difference. 36mm can be small to some and anything bigger than 40mm, imposing. 38.5mm inhabits that in-between space that will look great on any wrist, even the smaller ones (raises hand).
Of course, even mechanical watch newbies know that design and aesthetics are just a small part of what makes a watch something special – like people, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. It just so happens that Lange 1 is a really, really good looking guy who also has an amazing personality.
Rather than get super technical here with the ins and outs of the Lange 1’s movement – which has already been done beyond exceptionally by our friends at HODINKEE – let’s just say that aside from A. Lange & Söhne’s singular designs, their movements are universally regarded as perfection. Add to that some intricate detailing – though admittedly not nearly as intricate as the Datograph’s case back – and you’ve got a serious one-two horological punch.
The versatile style of the Lange 1
From a styling perspective, the Lange 1 gives no quarter. It’s special, for sure, but definitely not a one-trick pony. That’s an important, albeit non-technical, feature that was impossible to overlook during the two weeks I had the watch in my possession.
While there’s an argument to be made about the versatility of steel (or white gold or platinum, if you can roll that way), I found the Lange 1 in rose gold to be just as, if not more, versatile than a silver-colored case. Why?
My feeling is that with a steel or white gold (or platinum) case, you’re kind of locked in to a particular characteristic for that watch. For example, my Rolex 1675 is a sport watch. It wouldn’t look good with a suit. My steel/white gold Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet looks great dressed up and can work more casually, but I always feel that it somewhat counterbalances a casual look with jeans. Part of that is the Jubilee bracelet – it would definitely be more versatile on an Oyster.
The rose gold Lange 1 on a brown leather strap pairs extremely well with dark denim, a button-up and a cardigan or blazer. And, of course, it looks great with a suit. Honestly, the Lange 1 is a fantastic, all-around, everyday watch. It’s that good.
An investment piece
Now is the time to recall the opening of this post, where I classified the Lange 1 as “grail status” for me because of its price tag, which is a hefty one. The Lange 1 in rose gold retails for $34,700 USD.
I have had crushes on other luxury watches in the past. And I’ve learned to mostly contain my lust for them because, inevitably, that feeling of being enamored with and then coveting something of that nature always passes with time.
However, with the Lange 1, it’s a completely different story. Every time I see one, it makes an even bigger impression on me. A revolutionary, but timeless beauty, that will never go out of style.
By the way, don’t forget that we’ll be hosting an exclusive cocktail event at the A. Lange & Söhne boutique on Madison Avenue in NYC on May 10th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. It’s still a month and a half away, but space is extremely limited. If you live in the NYC area and would like to attend, please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style